I was raised and brought up by the dried seafood business. It was always a part of my life. My father was brought up in a fisherman village where my parents started selling dried salted fish to their colleagues, made by my grandmother, in their twenties.
Upon getting good responses, my grandmother starting making more and more. When there were excessive supplies, my parents had to seek out other customers, trying to sell them at a cheap price. It was during a time of financial crisis, but dried salted fish remained surprisingly in good demand.
My parents sold their products by going from store to store. At some point, people started to ask for other types of dried seafood. My father managed to connect directly to suppliers who were mostly local families and other fishermen that he knew, to offer a wider range. They did it step by step with a humble and sincere attitude, and that’s where this business was given the opportunity to thrive!
It wasn’t easy. I remember being a student and having to help out with the packaging work and then attending tuition classes right after. I was laughed at by my classmates due to the smell of salted fish on my body. But my mother has always said that any work built with hard work and effort, is good work. Her words inspired me and is the backbone of my own journey.
Transforming my family business
Building on my family’s business, my sister and partner Yi Chen and I founded The Fisherman 76 Resources, a business that supplies various types of delicious dried seafoods to people in Malaysia. We’ve just completed our first milestone year on Lazada and we are sure that this is only the beginning of our journey!
We started selling dry seafood online for two reasons: one, being the resources online that are so readily available today; and two, our hope that people can get better options to their dried seafood choices.
As dried seafood is a natural product, the choices available depend highly on the local fish supplies in the sea. In different states or markets, people are not able get a certain quality or type of dried seafood product. For example, dried ikan kekek is an amazing taste booster for soups, but it is not something we normally find in wet markets or grocery stores, and it’s mostly available only to vendors. We thought, what if people can have more options and more importantly, access, to these products?
Providing quality dried seafoods
Fresh, dried seafood products, which are of premium quality while being economically
priced, are not easily accessible everywhere, especially in urban places like Kuala Lumpur and Johor. Being able to take our products online, gives people more options and choices that fit to their needs no matter where they are located. It makes us so happy to hear our customers telling us that they our products have helped them with business, fed their families, or simply made their dishes taste better!
One of the best thing about selling online for me is that our orders are automated and
organised. It really minimises the mistakes on data recording, and saves time with communication, especially for introverted sellers like us. I’ve always thought that sellers have to be very outspoken and aggressive. But on an established online platform like Lazada, we have so much more time to focus on developing our product and improving customer satisfaction. The orders came organically, to our surprise.
We are constantly trying our best to provide a more accurate image and detailed information on our products so customers know what to expect and can make informed decisions. As customers can’t physically see and touch the products, we want them to be fully aware of what they’re buying and getting.
Learning through Lazada University
The special part about being a part of the Lazada family is the proactive growth of
the platform and expanding opportunities. In the one year since we started selling on Lazada, we’ve seen plenty of new features being implemented. For example, the introduction of different weights feature for different variations have really helped saved on shipping costs while offering one-off purchase convenience for our customers.
We also learned a lot through Lazada University and the Masterclasses. It can be a little lonely to be an entrepreneur sometimes, but thankfully through this platform we also get to learn from senior sellers who generously share their knowledge!
The truth is, I had lots of self-doubt and insecurity when I chose the entrepreneurship path. Before we started the business, I was a degree student, engaged in corporate trainee programmes with two public listed companies.
However, further contemplation showed me that life is not just about me and me alone. This business has enabled me to help and stay close to my family. I have the flexibility when it comes to my work, and can focus on my personal growth too.
Last but not least, this business has allowed us to help others in our own small ways. It makes me happy when we enable some families or vendors to lower down their cost with our existence. Even the smallest impact makes me grateful because it’s what we can do. We were also able to contribute some of our income to UNICEF earlier this year, and we are sure that this won’t be the last of such opportunities.
We are continuously looking for more growth and we hope to keep enhancing our customers’ experience with all the capacity we have. However, we are and perhaps will always be a small business. There are lots of magical, exciting things awaiting us, including the innovation on tastier dried seafood, sustainable packaging and more. These small, yet significant things are what excites us, keeps us humble, and at the same time pushes us to strive harder than any other.
Watch the Yi Thing’s full video here.
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